It happened. The phone rang the familiar song I've grown to love over the last eleven years. A call from Warren Miller Entertainment telling me to pack my bags for a filming trip to Big Sky, Montana. I gathered my things, hopped into a brand new Nissan Xterra courtesy of Warren himself, and was off to collect the rest of my team.
The first on board was Asia Jenkins, a new addition to the Warren Miller team, who trekked over from Aspen to meet me in Vail. From there, we drove the eight hours up to Jackson Hole to pick up snowboarder Shawn O'Brien and freeskier Kina Pickett.
Driving through Jackson Hole and not being able to get out of the car to make some turns was difficult. And the fact that the Tetons had been getting punished by snowstorms for the past two weeks made it torture. Probably inspired by the raging storm outside, conversation in the car turned quickly to recent ski adventures, with each of us praying that the storm cycle making our drive so difficult would follow us all the way to Big Sky.
After rolling into Big Sky, we picked up Mickey Price, a mogul skier and Warren Miller veteran. Hailing from Bozeman, Price was our Montana local. Between Price and my sister who lives in Big Sky with her husband, Craig, we were pretty well dialed in with the locals.
During our entire drive from Colorado, wind blew and snow fell from the heavens, and it hadn't changed much since we arrived in Big Sky. A few locals claimed these were the best conditions they had seen all year. Now all we needed was for the wind to stop, a few more inches of snow to fall, and the sun to come out on Lone Peak. If all that happened, and avalanche conditions remained low, the filming would be good. Unfortunately, the snow stopped, the clouds remained, and the wind picked up. Our first day was a wash.
Returning to our condo, I picked up a message from Greg LeMond. Yes, that Greg LeMond. He insisted that I bring my friends over to the Yellowstone Club, a private resort located on the shoulder of Big Sky that has more acreage than most major resorts and never has more than 40 people skiing on it at any time. As LeMond's guests, we were treated to trackless, lift-accessed powder for the rest of the day. I highly suggest getting a membership¿if you have a couple million dollars burning a hole in your pocket.
LeMond held his own showing us around the resort. Retired from cycling, the three-time Tour de France champion has made skiing and fly-fishing his full-time passions. And watching him ski Yellowstone's wind-blown glades made it clear that he had learned the magic of owning a pair of fat skis. That night, we jumped back into the Xterra, said good-bye to the Yellowstone Club and headed for home.
Click related link at above right for Part 2 of Warren Miller Flies at Big Sky.